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School of Law to Get Major Face-lift

Two trustees kick off $20 million fundraiser


The LAW tower needs new space and refurbishing. Photo courtesy of BU School of Law

Already laying claim to a top-caliber faculty, the School of Law now plans to build educational space to match.

A planned renovation of LAW’s 265-foot tower, involving interior upgrades and construction of a new west wing,has been jump-started by two BU trustees. Stephen Zide (LAW’86), managing director of Bain Capital, in New York, gave $1 million, and Richard Cartier Godfrey (LAW’79), a senior partner at the firm Kirkland & Ellis, in Chicago has given $1.5 million. They are among almost two dozen “founding partners”who have already pledged contributions to the project.

The University has agreed to underwrite the bulk of the renovation and construction project—$141 million—but is asking donors to contribute $20 million to fund the rest by May 2012, when officials hope that groundbreaking on the new wing will start.

LAW is “one of the true jewels of BU’s crown,” BU President Robert A. Brown has said. “Now it is time for us to make a major strategic investment to support the school in its tradition of excellence.”

“The law school’s continued excellence is central to the University’s goal of being one of the leading urban universities,” Zide says. “During my time as a student there a quarter-century ago, the law school tower needed improvements to bring the facilities in line with the quality of the faculty and the balance of the educational experience.”

The half-century old tower’s deficiencies include some that impede education, LAW leaders say. Acoustic and visual impairments hamper learning in some classrooms with steeply tiered seating, the result of configuring space in a vertical building. Study space is in tight supply; the heating, air conditioning,roof, and windows are antiquated; and there can be long elevator waits during peak hours to reach classrooms that are as high as the 15th floor.

The new west wing, to sit atop what is now a courtyard and underground heating plant, will house most of LAW’s classrooms, new study space, and a new library to complement the existing Pappas Law Library. Construction of the wing is expected to take two years, and the rest of the tower will be renovated over the next 15 months, says Cornell L. Stinson, LAW assistant dean for development and alumni relations.

In addition to utility improvements, faculty and administrative offices will move to the upper floors, and a pedestrian concourse will be added to the ground floor, with an atrium and stairway on the east end for a new main entrance.

“Overall, the main flow of people on our campus will be horizontal, rather than vertical,” according to a LAW brochure on the project.

Giving to the project,Zide says, represents “an opportunity to be part of both solidifying the leadership of the law school and moving BU forward toward its goals.”

Rich Barlow can be reached at barlowr@bu.edu.


12 Comments on School of Law to Get Major Face-lift

  • Jose Davis on 05.02.2011 at 1:45 am

    This project is seriously needed. I hope the facade is going to be renovated as well to be more in line with the feel of campus. The building is an absolute eye sore right now.

  • Anonymous on 05.02.2011 at 8:17 am


    Very glad to hear this – the law building must be one of the ugliest in all of higher education! It’s a major eyesore on an already aesthetically-challenged campus.

  • Anonymous on 05.02.2011 at 10:08 am

    Hurray! It’s about time.

  • Brian on 05.02.2011 at 11:09 am

    The Law tower is not an eyesore. In fact, it is one of the shining examples of the brutalism style. It’s a shame that most people just do not understand it, and neglect to give it the credit it deserves.

    I hope the renovation and expansion is sensitive to this important building and enhances the overall student experience.

  • Anonymous on 05.02.2011 at 1:34 pm

    Do not understand it?

    “Do not understand it?” Are you serious? That is just snooty and insulting. Art and beauty can be recognized by the masses (just for the untrained, unable to identify and articulate the elements, but they still see it).

    That Law Tower, only gives a closed, forbidden, and depressing aura. One can argue that there’s a beauty in that, if I state at Boston City Hall long enough, I can see that element in its architecture, but it doesn’t dismiss the fact that the aura is still foreboding and depressing as by the nature of using materials that is used for MILITARY BUNKERS.

    The Law Tower did done one thing right, it looks awesome at sunset and sunrise as it is designed to look cool in shadows. Too bad that only about 2 hours of the day.

  • Anonymous on 05.02.2011 at 2:39 pm

    It is not snooty and insulting. In fact, it’s insulting to call this work of art an eyesore in the same way as it would be to call a Picasso one. Sure, it’s a matter of opinion not to like something, but there are also facts that seem to be shamefully ignored when people talk about this building in such sweeping generalizations.

    No surprise the architect of this building, Sert, was among company in Picasso, Dali, and a few others.

  • BU Alum on 05.02.2011 at 4:27 pm

    “It’s a shame that most people just do not understand it” I gues we alls just to dum to see the beautee that the elite see so readily!

  • Anonymous on 05.02.2011 at 10:33 pm

    I think there is beauty in the Law Tower…. in the same way that there’s beauty in a crying child or a black and while photo of a war ravaged town. But this really isn’t the type of beauty I want to look at every day.

  • Anonymous on 05.05.2011 at 12:08 pm


    Guys…guys…it’s a building. This is not really a worthwhile argument. Let’s just chill.

  • Anonymous on 08.01.2011 at 12:42 pm

    Great News!

    Obviously, everyone has their own opinion – I’m with the eyesores – I went to law school in that horrendously ugly building… during high winds, it would feel like it was shaking – it was horrible from an aestethic and functionality standpoint. Relying on old, crowded elevators to get anywhere was never fun. To those who love “brutalism” architecture, feel free to buy a house for yourself and live there. For the rest of us, I’m looking forward to seeing an improved law school!

  • Anonymous on 09.08.2011 at 9:04 pm

    When you pay so much money and work so darn hard to get into law school, I think you’d like it to have a nice atmosphere. When you look at buildings in other schools like in Cambridge or Oxford, you look at the buildings and grounds and the beauty students are surrounded by everyday and can easily see how students could become greatly inspired and refreshed. Let the renovations aim to provide the same beauty and inspiration for BU LAW students.

  • Outer Update on 11.16.2011 at 10:14 am

    The outside of the building cannot be changed—it’s historically protected, hence why the article specifies: “interior upgrades and construction of a new west wing.”

    The add-ons may finesse the look a bit, but the outside will remain otherwise unchanged. /End aesthetic debate that somehow turned into a conversation on “elitism,” like every disagreement ever.

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